Russell: Performance 'secondary' to survival before Williams takeover

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George Russell says the survival of the Williams team rather than its performance was the British outfit's priority during its final years under the ownership of its founding family.

Last year, Williams opened a new chapter in its over forty-year history when Sir Frank Williams sealed a transaction with Dorilton Capital.

The US private equity firm's takeover of the Grove-based outfit has led to a new dawn for F1's third most successful team on the grid after Ferrari and McLaren.

Endowed with adequate resources and having undergone a significant management restructuring, with former VW motorsport boss Jost Capito now at the helm, Williams has entered a new dawn.

Russell made his F1 debut with Williams in 2019 when the team was in the midst of a severe depression. And the onslaught of the global Covid-19 pandemic further weighed on the team until Dorilton's providential takeover.

But the Mercedes protégé says the outfit's change of ownership came too late last year for it to have a significant impact on this season's performance and the development of its 2021 FW43B.

"Obviously, 2019 was an incredibly difficult season," Russell told

"And then with what unfolded throughout 2020, with the pandemic and the financial situation of the team becoming incredibly difficult, we recognised that it would be so tough to develop, improve.

"We do now have new owners. Unfortunately, for us it probably came slightly too late to actually make a proper difference for 2021.

"You can't just suddenly inject a load of cash and expect results because your baseline is so far away.

"And it would not have been wise for them to have done that because they're not looking to rush, they're looking to do things right, which is absolutely the right way."

Russell says Dorilton hasn't invested in Williams to turn the team around and make a quick buck. Strategically, its financial planning and management is all about the long term.

"They're here for the long haul," said the Briton. "They've got a very strong, mid-to-long-term target.

"And now with the arrival of Jost [Capito, Williams’ team principal] and technical director in FX [Demaison], the team is now finally starting to have some real stability, which will allow all of the other workers to fully focus on their own roles under the direction of the guys at the top.

"Which we didn't really have for so long."

Jost Capito (GER) Williams Racing Chief Executive Officer. 16.04.2021. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 2, Emilia Romagna Grand Prix, Imola

Indeed, during Williams' recent lean years, survival was the team's first priority, with performance a very distant secondary consideration.

"As I've said before, when Claire [Williams, former deputy team principal] and Mike [O’Driscoll, former team CEO] were here, their main objective was to keep the team alive, which is absolutely the right objective, but performance was a secondary target.

"Whereas, now, performance is everything. Potentially a lot of us would not have been here today, had it not been for the great efforts of Claire and Mike to keep the team alive during the pandemic.

"But now, things are stable, and the future looks bright for the team."

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